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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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Goodbye, Goldmann's


Goldmann's Department Store closed on Friday, and this bums me out. Granted, Goldmann's had a somewhat odd selection of merchandise (as in floral muumuus and a bin full of rabbits foot key chains), but it was also home to a great lunch counter, candy counter, lighting department, fabric store, clothing shop -- and it was my favorite place to buy socks.

However, with more than 100 years in business, all I can really say is that it had a great run. Here are my top reasons why I will never forget Goldmann's:

1. On my very first day as an OnMilwaukee.com writer (June 15, 2002), Publisher Andy Tarnoff sent me to Goldmann's to interview Milt Pivar, owner of Goldmann's, and to write an article about the funky store. Hence, it became my first OnMilwaukee.com article. (I had written a few as a freelancer prior to it, but this was my first one as a full-time staff writer.) I was already a longtime patron of Goldmann's, and when I got this assignment, I knew I landed in the right place at OnMilwaukee.com and never looked back. (Here's the article.)

2. My parents and I used to eat at the lunch counter together when I was a kid. We were lovers of lunch counter grilled cheese sandwiches and fries, so when we out and about, away from The Oriental lunch counter (our usual haunt), we would stop at Goldmann's for a bite.

3. During a difficult phase of our life, my husband and I restored a 1970 Airstream camper. It took eight years to complete, but we worked on the bulk of it in from 2001-'02, which was when we did the interior. All of the fabric to cover the cushions (deep red velvet and shaggy turquoise) and the fabric used to make the curtains (red and black Japanese fans) was from Goldmann's. Tragically, the Airstream was totaled in an accident last year, so -- like Goldmann's -- it's history now.

4. Friends of mine own a four-story building across the street from Goldmann's, and over the years, many other friends have lived in the units. From a couple of the spaces, the Goldmann's sign is visible from the windows. It's also visible from the roof, where I've spent some amazing evenings hanging out. I'll miss the orange glowing letters of the neon sign.

5. Most of all, I will miss the uniqueness of Goldmann's. I know ya hear this a lot, but the loss of one-of-a-kind businesses -- along with the surplus of chain shops and restaurants -- chips away from the signature culture of a city. Sigh.

Talkbacks

Victrola | Oct. 1, 2007 at 8:38 a.m. (report)

Goldmann's will truly be missed! My Grandma worked there until her retirement. I have distinct childhood memories of the candy counter, the creaky stairs that lead to the loft of lights, the giant men's pants, the shoeman that used to be in the basement, the dip in the floor by the side door and of course the lunch counter.

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